There is a famous scene from the film ‘Crocodile Dundee’ where the hero is confronted by a would-be mugger on the streets of New York. The mugger pulls a knife and demands the hero’s wallet. Croc Dundee just grins and comes out with the famous line “that’s not a knife : THIS is a knife” while pulling out a whopping ten-incher…..and of course the joke is also that as a backwoodsman he also knows how to use a knife as well.
Well this morning i was sitting at the computer desk doing my morning admin and just about getting to the point where my coffee intake is reaching ‘adequate’ and looking out over the back garden. Its raining sideways here and the trees are moving almost down at ground level which means that there isn’t that much point going down to the boat today : yes i could go out to the boat and i could go down the river but would just end up anchoring and reading a book and i can do that in greater comfort here. Anyway and up pings an email from my mate Al in New Zealand. Alan likes my little woodshed and that i have been collecting firewood again, his approach is shall we say slightly more ‘industrial’. Where i use a rucksack and am limited to about 70 lbs a carry Alan prefers a truck and a full-on log grabber….just the kind of things that are lurking in one small corner of the ‘shed’…..he does big sheds too. This morning i can just imagine Al looking at my woodpile saying “that’s not a woodpile :THIS is a woodpile”. So you see : out shedded, out tooled and out woodpiled…..i think he is working on a bigger and faster boat too !.
I must point out that Al lives in a very rural corner of a country where a lot of people live far more rugged and self-reliant lives than we do in the UK. I practice a bit of self-reliance : Al and his partner ‘live the life’. His place is about 17 acres and about 2 acres of that is a stand of native forest, i am pretty sure we could tuck our cottage inside one of his sheds if he moved the truck or the bus or any other project into a different corner.
Here today its wet day jobs for me, read, write , blog and drink coffee !. One serious job i intend to do today is to prepare my splitting kit : axes and wedges, ready to start processing the new collected firewood. I was thinking that while i do that i may as well sharpen a few knives up : my favourite kitchen knife needs a better edge and its always well worth while honing up my usual sailing knife. I guess that i am pretty comfortable around knives as i have a strong background not just in sailing : the knife is the sailors first tool, but in bushcraft and survival skills too where its normal for people to carry proper knives and know how to use them.
At sea i always carry a proper knife and by that i mean a sharp fixed bladed knife that doesn’t try to pretend to do any other job. I was thinking just now about this one time when i was aboard a big boat with the owner and he was trying to trim one of the big spinnaker guys (braces) with his cute little Swiss Army knife….and of course he could hardly even cut the sheath with that pathetic little blade. I did almost have a “call that a knife” moment as i took over the job with my riggers Myerchin but even at the time i remember thinking that somehow the pretty little Swiss Army knife is indicative of the age we live in : the knife is next to useless as are most of the tools that come with it…more like toys than tools. Many of the professional sailors that i worked with had multi-tool knives with blades that either won’t take an edge or won’t lock into place and are thus not only unfit for task but also dangerous and neither are the tools in the ‘knife’ of much real utility. The knife is the first tool of the deep-sea sailor, its perfectly valid for the sailor to carry and use (and know how to use) a proper fixed blade knife and there are some really good ones out there that are based on real riggers and sailors knives. The bread-saw by the way is one of the most effective blades on a boat.
Throw it away.
Alan wrote : ”